Text and photos by Ruth Fordon
Among the many artisans sharing Ocracoke Island, we are fortunate to have two who make soap. Milk Street Soap and Andromeda Soap follow the tradition of value-added, pure natural ingredient products made and sold locally.
Inspired by history and fueled by determination, Kim and Roger Meacham have big plans for their fledgling Milk Street Soap.
It started as an experiment to treat their young son’s eczema.
“I thought I would try my luck at a restorative, gentle homemade soap,” Kim explains. “Much to our delight it worked wonders.”
Then soap-making became a hobby and lots of recipes were tried, passed around at parties and wrapped for holiday gifts. Now, after years of research and testing, the Meachams have developed a winning formula for bars of nurturing soap that has grown into a well-tooled business in a steep growth curve.
The aromatherapy of the soap is very appealing and each bar is uniquely crafted for nurturance of the skin using a variety of organic premium oils, including olive and castor bean, and shea butter. Organic essential oil blends are combined to produce healing and rejuvenative effects.
Kim arrives in her soap studio every morning at 3:30 a.m. and works until it’s time to wake the children and begin their home-school program. Around 3 p.m. there is a break and time for another round of work in the studio before an evening shift at Dajio restaurant.
This venture is about more than just making soap.
“We have always wanted to make a difference and contribute to good community, good friends and the greater good,” Kim says. “Our soaps are meticulously and methodically created for the environment and people. We strive for sustainability, conscientious manufacturing, post-use water quality, rain forest protection, animal care, fair trade wage respect and general good stewardship of the planet.”
Roger also has a demanding work schedule outside their home. Working together as a team is in their business plan and they hope to be able to sustain themselves entirely from their business in a few years. Goals for the future include a website.
Wonder where Milk Street is located? Philadelphia is the answer, statesmen Benjamin Franklin, also a soap maker lived his adult life there and each Milk Street soap package includes a wise and common sense quote from Ben.
Milk Street Soaps are available at: Ocracoke Coffee Co., Salt Creek Studio, Bella Fiore Pottery, Halo Hair Studio, Black Schooner Nautical Shop, Down Creek Gallery, the Community Store and the Variety Store.
Looking for something he could do on his own time, Ocracoke resident Frank Brown bought the already-established small business “Andromeda Soap,” improved the formulas and started soap making. Making soap offers a “good time to sit back and contemplate things,” according to Frank who has now been making and selling Andromeda soap for 13 years. “I do it by myself in the quiet.”
There is more quiet and time since he and his wife, Jude, retired the island hemp shop “Natural Selections” last December. Frank is committed to making a natural product using pure essential oils, all-natural preservatives and hemp seed oil as an ingredient in every bar of soap. There are 17 different fragrance combinations available. Exfoliates added include oatmeal, ground clove, clays and barley grass.
Using the old net house behind his home, he can make 80 bars of soap in one batch and last year sold a total of 2,600 bars at his local retail shop, the Village Craftsmen, the KDH Gallery in Kitty Hawk and online at his website ocracokeislandhemp.com.
Twenty percent of the fragrance combinations I make account for 80 percent of what I sell,” reports Frank noting that lavender, patchouli and clove seem to be the favorites. “I make as much as I can handle and sell all of it.” This year 3,000 bars is his goal.
Frank has a lot of repeat customers.
“Their comments to me are great and very rewarding,” he says. “It’s nice to make a product people enjoy and is healthful for them.”
Our skin is the largest and fastest growing organ in the human body. Nourishing and rejuvenative skin care is a primary factor in physical health.